- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Throngs of tourists visiting the District of Columbia’s cherry trees, now in full bloom, helped Metrorail’s ridership blossom.

The system served 345,000 riders Sunday, the largest tally on that day since 2015.

At 3 p.m. Sunday, Metro tweeted that 30,000 riders were on the system, with visiting crowds causing minor delays on the Orange, Silver and Blue lines, which overlap in many stations and serve all three of Metro’s jurisdictions.

The Smithsonian station was metered for exits only for a while, with riders urged to use L’Enfant Plaza or Federal Triangle for faster access to the National Mall, the national park adjacent to the Tidal Basin where the cherry trees stand.

As for motorists, they contended with significant traffic.

The parking options closest to the Tidal Basin filled up quickly, with other options available north of the water.

The cherry trees reached full bloom, defined by the National Park Service as the point when 70% or more of the capital’s cherry trees had open blossoms, on Thursday. The period of full bloom is expected to be several days and can be extended by calm, cool weather.

Conversely, harsh winds and rains can strip petals from the trees, ending the full bloom period.

The events of the national Cherry Blossom Festival, meanwhile, last until April 16.

Metro General Manager Randy Clarke saw the cherry blossom crowds as a major step in Metro’s comeback.

The comeback is years in the making, with pandemic and safety issues having caused a steady drop in ridership over the years.

• Brad Matthews can be reached at bmatthews@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide